Form and function

– the soul of Scandinavian Design.

What is it that makes Scandinavian design so…well, so Scandinavian? Just how did these clean, minimalist and yet so beautiful lines and forms come from?

Quite simply, the soul of Scandinavian design comes from the social reforms of the mid-20th century when there was a big movement to make sure everyone had enough to be comfortable in their lives. Scandinavian designers were also taught early on to think primarily about the function of an object and to make sure its form helped it to perform its function. This rigour, this constraint, is what liberated the great creativity of Nordic design. Additionally, the idea of everyone – rich and poor – having enough to be happy and comfortable was a huge influence. Instead of having lots of different glasses and plates for different drinks and courses, wouldn’t it be better just to have one or two types? It’d be cheaper and more space-efficient for rich and poor alike, and if the glasses and plates are well-designed, even better still!

Scandinavian design reduces objects to their functional elements while retaining beauty and grace. The golden era for Nordic design was from the 1930s to the 1960s when the Social Democrats won the election and made good on their promise to improve the lot of the working classes. Their aim was “better everyday living for everyone” and this mantra permeated everything from the building projects to the design of cars and cutlery.

Each Scandinavian country has its speciality – Denmark does great furniture, Sweden does ceramics and the Finns seem to have the monopoly on timeless glass pieces. Every country, however, strives for and produces the same simple beauty. In Scandinavian design, simplicity and function are all-important. The fact that the objects don’t shout or jump out at people, but just quietly and efficiently go about their business is the essence of Scandinavia. It’s not about the frills, or the whistles and bells, it’s all about usefulness with a side order of grace.

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